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Women in Construction

A Conversation with Ahlam Qaimari

Women in Construction Week is here. To recognize this week, March 5-11, Glass Magazine sat down with a few women in the industry to discuss their experiences. This is the interview Ahlam Qaimari, who has been in the glass industry for three years since she joined Griffin Glass & Metal Werks.

Qaimari holding up Glass Magazine's Women in Glass issueAhlam Qaimari

Griffin Glass & Metal Werks, General Manager

Q: How did you get started in the glass industry? 

A: While I have worked for many manufacturing companies in the past, my career in glass started in February 2020 when I joined Griffin Glass and Metal Werks as a manufacturing engineer. I found out about the position from a family friend and then I applied. I was especially drawn to the industry when I discovered all the large projects the company was involved in. You never realize exactly how much work goes into every building you see, especially when it comes to glass and doors. The level of detail is amazing.

Q: What drew you to the industry?

A: It's exciting seeing major structures in the city of Chicago, New York and other areas that were designed and installed by my peers. I drive by skyscrapers, airports, museums and other major structures with my family and always say “We did that!” It's really exciting work.

Q: How have working conditions changed since you've been in the industry (specifically, at your company)?

A: Shortly after I joined, the COVID pandemic started. Because we work on such critical projects, we had to navigate coming to the office every day, even during a pandemic.  We did not have the liberty to work from home like they did in other industries. Our clients needed us and we were there.

The type of work we did also changed. We started looking at how we could provide protective enclosures to combat the spread of the virus for our clients. The company handled the crises remarkably well and we were able to complete the work that was necessary. It also confirmed for me how important the work we do really is.

Q: How has the number of women in the industry changed since you've been working (specifically, at your company)?

A: We made an effort to hire female engineers and fabricators in the company and were successful in doing so. I also hope to continue to find well-qualified women as we grow. In our industry, which has been male-dominated in the past, it is critical to highlight the work women do in order to attract more of them to the field. I want my daughter to look up to me and see that women can be engineers and lead divisions too, even in manufacturing environments.

Q: What do the glass/construction industries have to offer women? 

Truly, the same that the industry offers men. It’s a very exciting industry where you get to see the product of your work come alive in front of you.  Also, it’s a very stable industry as we will always need glass in our structures and buildings. You are involved in very impactful projects. There are remarkable women in the field that network and support each other, as is evident at the National Glass Association events. 

Q:What are the benefits of being in the glass industry as a woman?

I would say that it is such a diverse industry as glass has so many applications. You get to work with so many different types of people with a variety of skillsets. Also, because there tends to be a shortage of women in these fields, you are highly sought after and tremendously respected for the work you do. While it is never necessary to prove your worth to anyone, it’s at the same time motivating to me that I work in a field where I may be viewed as an outsider, as I always am pushing myself to prove that I can do anything and do it well. 

Q: Overall, how has your experience been in the industry?

A: I truly could not ask for a better industry to work in. People are so supportive, always looking to improve themselves and the industry in general. I have met so many women and peers at NGA events that have become friends. While it may be intimidating for a woman on the outside looking in, I have actually found the industry to be extremely welcoming.

I also am very fortunate to be working for Griffin Glass and Metal Werks. From our leadership on down, they have been very supportive of me and have opened so many doors for me, which motivates me to continuously look to do more and better. I recently was promoted to General Manager of my company, which is just added proof that women can do anything in this industry and if you work hard and persevere, you will be recognized and rewarded for your work.



Rachel Vitello

Rachel Vitello

Rachel Vitello is the Assistant Editor & Researcher for Glass Magazine and Window + Door.